Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rush Limbaugh's Party of Failure

Original Link:

by John Nichols

Rush Limbaugh says he wants Barack Obama to fail as president.

Fair enough.

Limbaugh says he is an entertainer, and entertainers have no responsibility to support what is best for their country. They swear no oath of loyalty to the Constitution and, it is fair to say, Limbaugh has displayed no such loyalty during a career defined by nothing so much as his situational ethics.

But Limbaugh also suggests that Congressional Republicans deserve to be treated with respect because, while Obama won the presidency, members of the GOP minorities in the House and Senate "also won."

Fair enough.

If we are supposed to take the failure caucus seriously, then we should ask who they represent.

A new analysis of the country's political makeup by the Gallup polling organization suggests what ought to be an unsettling answer for Limbaugh and his allies.

Because of dramatic increases in political engagement by women, young voters and people of color across the country--much of it inspired by Obama's candidacy, although some of it inspired by revulsion at the Republican rule that preceded it--Gallup determined that only five states can reasonably be referred to as "Republican." The states that are either reliably Republican or trending in a Republican direction, according to Gallup's study of voter identification and trend measures are Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Alaska and Nebraska.

Democrats are actually gaining strength in a number of states that voted Republican in 2008's presidential race, such as Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina and South Dakota. And the party is solidifying its position in recently Republican states that Obama tipped to the Democratic column last year, such as Colorado, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

What this all adds up to is evidence that, even in states that send a lot of Republicans to the House and Senate, there is a growing enthusiasm for the Democratic party – and, presumably, hope that the Obama administration will succeed.

A recent CNN/Opinion Research survey found that 56 percent of Americans surveyed are of the view that the country is better off with Democratic leadership, as opposed to just 31 percent who would put the GOP in charge. And the new Diageo/Hotline poll has the Democratic party with holding a better than 2-1 advantage over the Republicans--a remarkable gap--in generic matchups for the 2010 House and Senate elections.

At this point, only 22 percent of Americans say they are inclined to vote Republican.

In other words, the post-George Bush Republican Party is less appealing than was George Bush.

Thus, while Limbaugh is right that Republicans "also won" some elections in 2008, there is reason to believe their successes may be even fewer in 2010. (This would explain why so many GOP and House and Senate members – most recently, Florida Congressman Adam Putnam, once considered to be one of the party's "rising stars" on Capitol Hill – are quitting Congress either for home-state political endeavors or the old political dodge of "more time with the family.")

So Limbaugh can hope for failure. And Republicans in Congress may secretly --or in some cases openly – share that hope. But America does not. And Obama and his aides, as well as Democrats in Congress should recognize this fact as they consider the extent to which they will work with the Republican caucuses on Capitol Hill.

Limbaugh is defining the GOP as the party that is enthusiastic about failure--not just of Obama but of the battered American enterprise the president and the Congress are charged with renewing.

But Obama will only fail if he compromises with Limbaugh's party of failure.

Cooperating with a party that is so out of sync with the American electorate that is on the losing end of almost every political measure – and that is on the march in just five states – makes about as much sense as listening to Rush Limbaugh.

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